Fitzgerald's stamp has been in circulation since January, but it was ceremonially unveiled at the Black Spectrum Theatre Friday following dance and song performances from Queens students and jazz singer Eddie Harris."Ella Fitzgerald is not just about having a black face on a stamp," said Simone-Marie Meeks, wife of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica). "She is part of our foundation."Meeks was the keynote speaker at the event and she directed a good deal of her speech at the students in the audience. She told the crowd that Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Va. in 1917, then asked the students if they understood the challenges faced by black residents in the South at that time."You might be sitting way in the back or maybe outside," Meeks said, looking directly at the Allen Christian School step team, which performed later in the day.Meeks also asked the young students if they knew who civil right activist Medgar Evers was. When they answered no, Meeks urged the adults in the audience to redouble their efforts to get young people in touch with black history.Carl Clay, the executive director and founder of the Black Spectrum Theatre, echoed those sentiments."It's important for us as African American to understand who we are everyday of the week," Clay said. "It's not just important to read black history, we have to make black history."Besides the Allen Christian School dance team, students from the Frank Sinatra High School of the Arts in Long Island City also performed. Fitzgerald's life was also celebrated. Fitzgerald, known as the "First Lady of Song," died in 1996. During her career, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold more than 40 million records. She was a jazz pioneer who filled venues throughout the world and performed with the likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra and others.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@times
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